A Sweet Partnership
Kimberly Hall’s passion for baking started with her Easy-Bake Oven. She learned how to bake from her mother, who would give Kimberly scraps to cook over her oven’s little lightbulb. “It just turned out to be something that I loved doing,” Kimberly says of her early baking. Years later, Kimberly has turned this love for baking into a thriving career.
Kimberly worked a nine to five at AT&T when she first started baking again. A friend asked her to bake cupcakes for a fundraiser and Kimberly agreed. She found a recipe for cupcakes that had animals on top, and she found it was easy for her to shape the animals onto the cupcakes. They were a hit at the fundraiser, and soon coworkers and friends started asking her to bake for them. After a coworker asked to bake a cake shaped like a toilet, she found a niche creating realistic-looking cakes.
From there, Kimberly’s baking took off, and she named her business Signature Sweets. She was constantly baking for people, and eventually she was making more money from her baking than she was at her day job. However, she was still nervous to make baking her full-time job. At this point, Steve Harvey had heard of her business and asked her to be on his show. Kimberly was on an episode where the guests had nine to five jobs and another business on the side. He talked with her about making the jump to Signature Sweets.
After being on the Steve Harvey Show, Kimberly decided to jump. She quit her day job and focused full-time on Signature Sweets, and her business only grew. She’s now appeared on the Food Network nine times and signed contracts to make cakes for the Milwaukee Bucks and the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra. Her cakes have grown even larger and more elaborate. After the Bucks won the NBA Championship in 2021, Kimberly created a life-size cake replica of the trophy. From a giant chicken sandwich to a bust of Joaquin Phoenix as the joker, if you can name it, Kimberly can bake it.
Two years ago, Kimberly was able to open up a storefront for Signature Sweets on Oakland and Beverly. “The place was perfect,” She said. “It was a no-brainer.” While she loved having the bakery, she was usually the only one there, meaning she had to manage both the front end and the back end of the bakery. It was a challenge to keep the bakery open while also creating custom cakes for individual customers, as well as custom cakes every week for the Bucks and the Orchestra. “Trying to do all of that by myself was insane,” Kimberly said. “I was having a hard time finding employees, and I posted about it on Facebook. Someone commented Romell Greer’s name and said, ‘he can help you.’” She emailed him, and that week Romell sent her the application to become an employer for Skillful Transitions.
Skillful Transitions is Employ Milwaukee’s program that assists people whose previous employment didn’t come back post-pandemic, as well as those not working or had an uneven work history prior to the pandemic. Skillful Transitions connects job seekers with paid work experiences with local employers, as well as on-the-job training opportunities and skills trainings. It also helps businesses affected by the pandemic and economic hardship, or businesses simply looking to grow their current workforce, like Signature Sweets. For some businesses, a paid work experience may be a good option. With this option, Employ Milwaukee can subsidize wages for workers for the first few months. Businesses can try out a new hire before they make a commitment. While it is hoped that the worker would be offered a full-time position once the paid work experience is over, it is not a requirement – workers are still able to learn skills and build a work history while in a paid work experience.
Kimberly is committed to investing in her Skillful Transitions employees as well as the rest of the Milwaukee community. This past summer she taught a cooking class for kids where the kids learned how to make realistic hamburger cakes. In the future, she hopes to do more teaching. She envisions using the kitchen to do one-on-one lessons and group cooking classes and hopes to mentor her employees to help them teach the classes as well.